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What We Read Today 27 June 2016

Econintersect: Every day our editors collect the most interesting things they find from around the internet and present a summary "reading list" which will include very brief summaries (and sometimes longer ones) of why each item has gotten our attention. Suggestions from readers for "reading list" items are gratefully reviewed, although sometimes space limits the number included.

This feature is published every day late afternoon New York time. For early morning review of headlines see "The Early Bird" published every day in the early am at GEI News (membership not required for access to "The Early Bird".).


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Topics today include:

  • Companies May Make Student Loan Debt Repayment a Benefit

  • Does Metallic Hydrogen Exist Inside Gas Giant Planets?

  • Air Pollution a Major Killer

  • We Are Not as Selfish as Economics Theory Predicts

  • Zika Birth Defects Debate

  • Clinton and Warren?

  • SCOTUS Strikes Down Texas Abortion Regulations

  • Segregated Schools in NYC

  • Trump Predicts EU Breakup

  • More on Brexit

  • Australian Election Debate on Economics is Boring - No Disagreement

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • List of Possible Zika Birth Defects Grows Longer (Scientific American)  The full scope of Zika-related birth defects may extend far beyond abnormally small heads and brain damage. Research to be presented next week at a teratology conference in San Antonio, Texas, suggests that serious joint problems, seizures, vision impairment, trouble feeding and persistent crying can be added to the list of risks from Zika exposure in the womb.  But see the next article.

  • Zika virus may not cause microcephaly, claims new study (dnaIndia)  In Brazil, the rate of microcephaly, a birth defect where a baby's head is smaller than expected, soared with more than 1,500 confirmed cases. However in Colombia, a recent study of nearly 12,000 pregnant women infected with Zika found zero microcephaly cases, researchers said in a new report by the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI).  The U.S. CDC (Center for Disease Control) disagrees:  CDC Declares Zika–Microcephaly Link Solid (Scientific American)


  • Warren is a much better orator than Clinton

  • Clinton really wants Warren supporters on board

  • Warren wants the VP slot

  • Warren won’t back down in her feud with Trump

  • A Clinton-Warren ticket would be complicated



  • Donald Trump predicts breakup of EU (The Guardian)  Donald Trump has predicted the breakup of the European Union and warned Scotland against the risks of a second independence referendum.  During a visit to Scotland hours after Britain opted to leave the EU in a historic referendum, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee said that without strict migration controls Europe would be unrecognizable within a decade.


  • Brexit – It’s not Over (Dismal Optimist)  The Brexit referendum is not legally binding on the UK government or the EU. It will take two years to execute at best. Expect further surprises and changes. Despite what their politicians say, the British government could choose to ignore it.  A petition for a new referendum is gathering steam. The British voters are already suffering voters’ regret and global financial markets are in shambles.  It is not clear how this might play out.

  • The economics of Brexit (The Interpreter)  As usual in economics, 'it all depends', but there is near unanimity that this will turn out badly for Britain's economy, even in the longer run when the shockwaves have dissipated. See the chart on page 24 of the IMF's assessment. The only positive prediction is from a cock-eyed optimist who sees Britain retaining the substance of its EU relationship, supplementing this with free-trade agreements with fast-growing economies, and a productivity burst resulting from deregulation. 


  • UK currency slide threatens global growth (CNBC)  Eeconomists say the Brexit vote will likely put the brakes on what little forward momentum was left for British economic growth.  The cloud hanging over the crash in sterling, if the recent losses are sustained, could have one silver lining. A cheaper pound would make British exports more competitive in European markets and around the world, helping to narrow a widening trade deficit with Europe.


  • Volkswagen's U.S. diesel emissions settlement to cost nearly $15 billion: source (Reuters)  Volkswagen AG's (VOWG_p.DE) settlement with nearly 500,000 U.S. diesel owners and government regulators over polluting vehicles is valued at nearly $15 billion, a source briefed on the matter said on Monday.  The settlement, to be announced on Tuesday, includes just over $10 billion to offer buybacks to owners of polluting vehicles and nearly $5 billion in funds to offset excess diesel emissions and boost zero emission vehicles, the source said.


  • Taiwan's economic indicators up slightly in May (Focus Taiwan)  Taiwan's economy flashed a yellow-blue light in May for the second consecutive month but still showed improvement over April due to an increase in machinery and electric equipment imports, the National Development Council (NDC) said Monday.  Citing data, the NDC said the overall composite score of monitoring indicators for May rose three points from a month earlier to 20, representing the second consecutive monthly yellow-blue light after a blue light in March.  The NDC said the recovery also reflected increases in industrial production and manufacturing sector sales in the month.



Other Scientific, Health, Political, Economics and Business Items of Note - plus Miscellanea

  • Slideshow 5 reasons student loan repayment is the next big benefit (Employee Benefit News)  A new benefit to help employers attract and retain employees is likely to be student loan deby repayment.

  • Majority of workers cannot define terms like ‘copay’ and ‘deductible’ (Employee Benefit News)  Healthcare illiteracy is contributing to a crisis, where employees are paying too much for medical services and not getting the care they need.

  • Do Giant Planets Contain "Dark" Hydrogen? (Scientific American)  Gas giant planets are particularly good at creating some truly alien and, to us, unspeakable conditions. The interiors of both Jupiter and Saturn for example have long been suspected of reaching pressures where the element hydrogen assumes the behavior of an electrically conductive liquid metal. 

  • IEA - Air Pollution A Significant Public Health Crisis (R&D)  The International Energy Agency, an organization based in Paris specializing in energy advisory for member countries, published a report on Monday that explained air pollution caused an approximate 6.5 million premature deaths each year. Furthermore, the report predicted that air pollution-related deaths would increase each year until 2040 emphasizing that drastic changes would need to be made in terms of how countries use and produce energy, according to Reuters.  Particulate matter along with sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides were pegged as the most widespread culprits of causing air pollution. Long-term side effects include heart disease and lung cancer whereas these pollutants can also activate deadly diseases like heart attacks.  Unregulated or inefficient production and use of energy plays a role in the release of these pollutants, which is why the IEA recommended that total investment in sustainable energy practices be increased by 7 percent by 2040. This strategy could help reduce premature deaths from pollution down to 2.8 million and household air pollution fatalities drop to 1.3 million.   See World Energy Outlook Special Report 2016: Energy and Air Pollution.

  • We’re Not as Selfish as Economists Think We Are. Here’s the Proof. (Evonomics)  Misanthropy grants a free pass to the grasping, power-mad minority who tend to dominate our political systems. If only we knew how unusual they are, we might be more inclined to shun them and seek better leaders. It contributes to the real danger we confront: not a general selfishness, but a general passivity. Billions of decent people tut and shake their heads as the world burns, immobilized by the conviction that no one else cares. 

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